SeaWorld disputes OSHA charges, former employee says trainer death could happen again

Posted Monday, August 23, 2010 2:47 PM | Contributed by Jeff

Sea World did not do enough to keep its employees safe from killer whale Tilikum, with officials telling trainers that anyone who got into a pool with him "would come out as a corpse," the park's former head of safety is alleging.

Read more and see video from ABC News.

From the SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment blog:

"SeaWorld disagrees with the unfounded allegations made by OSHA today and have already informed the agency that we will contest this citation. The safety of our guests and employees and the welfare of our animals are core values for SeaWorld and areas in which we do not compromise.

The tragic accident on February 24, 2010 inspired an internal review of our whale program that has been unprecedented in scope. The findings of that review have been presented to an independent committee made up of some of the world’s most respected marine mammal experts. Their conclusions, drawn from decades of experience caring for marine mammals, are in stark contrast to OSHA’s. The safety of SeaWorld’s killer whale program was already a model for marine zoological facilities around the world and the changes we are now undertaking in personal safety, facility design and communication will make the display of killer whales at SeaWorld parks safer still.

OSHA's allegations in this citation are unsupported by any evidence or precedent and reflect a fundamental lack of understanding of the safety requirements associated with marine mammal care. Killer whales at SeaWorld are displayed under valid federal permits and under the supervision of two government agencies with directly applicable expertise: The U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the U.S. Department of Commerce National Marine Fisheries Service. SeaWorld is a member in good standing of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. Both associations make employee safety a central feature of rigorous accreditation processes."

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